A Closer Look At The History Of The 'Super Bowl Hangover' Effect

Fact or Fiction: The 'Super Bowl Hangover' Effect
Year Super Bowl SB Winner  Record Following Year Record 2 Years After SB
1966 I Green Bay Packers 9-4 (W Super Bowl) 6-7 (missed playoffs)
1967 II Green Bay Packers 6-7 (missed playoffs) 8-6 (missed playoffs)
1968 III New York Jets 10-4 (L 1st playoff game) 4-10 (missed playoffs)
1969 IV Kansas City Chiefs 7-5 (missed playoffs) 10-3 (L 1st playoff game)
1970 V Baltimore Colts 10-4 (L in AFCCG) 5-9 (missed playoffs)
1971 VI Dallas Cowboys 10-4 (L in NFCCG) 10-4 (L in NFCCG)
1972 VII Miami Dolphins 10-2 (W Super Bowl) 11-3 (L 1st playoff game)
1973 VIII Miami Dolphins 11-3 (L 1st playoff game) 10-4 (missed playoffs)
1974 IX Pittsburgh Steelers 12-2 (W Super Bowl) 10-4 (L in AFCCG)
1975 X Pittsburgh Steelers 10-4 (L in AFCCG) 9-5 (missed playoffs)
1976 XI Oakland Raiders 11-3 (L in AFCCG) 9-7 (missed playoffs)
1977 XII Dallas Cowboys 12-4 (L in Super Bowl) 11-5 (L 1st playoff game)
1978 XIII Pittsburgh Steelers 12-4 (W Super Bowl) 9-7 (missed playoffs)
1979 XIV Pittsburgh Steelers 9-7 (missed playoffs) 8-8 (missed playoffs)
1980 XV Oakland Raiders 7-9 (missed playoffs) 8-1 (L in Div. Round)
1981 XVI San Francisco 49ers 3-6 (missed playoffs) 10-6 (L in NFCCG)
1982 XVII Washington Redskins 14-2 (L in Super Bowl) 11-5 (L 1st playoff game)
1983 XVIII LA Raiders 11-5 (L in WC Round) 12-4 (L 1st playoff game)
1984 XIX San Francisco 49ers 10-6 (L in WC Round) 10-5-1 (L 1st playoff game)
1985 XX Chicago Bears 14-2 (L 1st playoff game) 11-4 (L 1st playoff game)
1986 XXI New York Giants 6-9 (missed playoffs) 10-6 (missed playoffs)
1987 XXII Washington Redskins 7-9 (missed playoffs) 10-6 (missed playoffs)
1988 XXIII San Francisco 49ers 14-2 (W Super Bowl) 14-2 (L in NFCCG)
1989 XXIV San Francisco 49ers 14-2 (L in NFCCG)  10-6 (missed playoffs)
1990 XXV New York Giants 8-8 (missed playoffs) 6-10 (missed playoffs)
1991 XXVI Washington Redskins 9-7 (L in Div. Round) 4-12 (missed playoffs)
1992 XXVII Dallas Cowboys 12-4 (W Super Bowl) 12-4 (L in NFCCG)
1993 XXVIII Dallas Cowboys 12-4 (L in NFCCG) 12-4 (W Super Bowl)
1994 XXIX San Francisco 49ers 11-5 (L 1st playoff game) 12-4 (L in Div. Round)
1995 XXX Dallas Cowboys 10-6 (L in Div. Round) 6-10 (missed playoffs)
1996 XXXI Green Bay Packers 13-3 (L in Super Bowl) 11-5 (L in WC Round)
1997 XXXII Denver Broncos 14-2 (W Super Bowl) 6-10 (missed playoffs)
1998 XXXIII Denver Broncos 6-10 (missed playoffs)  11-5 (L in WC Round)
1999 XXXIV St. Louis Rams 10-6 (L in WC Round) 14-2 (L in Super Bowl)
2000 XXXV Baltimore Ravens 10-6 (L in Div. Round) 7-9 (missed playoffs)
2001 XXXVI New England Patriots 9-7 (missed playoffs) 14-2 (W Super Bowl)
2002 XXXVII Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7-9 (missed playoffs) 5-11 (missed playoffs)
2003 XXXVIII New England Patriots 14-2 (W Super Bowl) 10-6 (L in Div. Round)
2004 XXXIX New England Patriots 10-6 (L in Div. Round) 12-4 (L in AFCCG)
2005 XL Pittsburgh Steelers 8-8 (missed playoffs) 10-6 (L in WC Round)
2006 XLI Indianapolis Colts 13-3 (L 1st playoff game) 12-4 (L in WC Round)
2007 XLII New York Giants 12-4 (L 1st playoff game) 7-6 
2008 XLIII Pittsburgh Steelers 6-7 ???

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Couple thoughts:

  • Super Bowl winners are 423-216 the year after proceeding a Super Bowl win. That's nearly a .662 winning % in what's supposed the be a 'hangover year.' 
  • When I set out to do this exercise, I hypothesized that if there was in fact some historical grounding to the 'SB Hangover Effect', teams would bounce back the year after the 'hangover.' I thought this might be particularly true in the years before free agency was introduced to the league in the 1993 Collective Bargaining Agreement. Well, first of all, it's hard to really say that teams historically struggle the year after winning a Lombardi. Sure, there have only been 8 repeat champions, but....
  • Only 12 SB winners failed to make the playoffs the following year. The Steelers championships teams of 2005 and 1979 did not return to the postseason to make a run at repeat glory. It sure appears as if th 2008 SB winning Steelers will not be returning to the post season to try to defend their title.
  • The back-to-back championships by Pittsburgh in both '74/'75 and '78/'79 constitute 2 of the 8 times teams have repeated. That's quite an impressive list of quarterbacks behind those title runs: Troy Aikman, Brett Favre, John Elway, Joe Montana, Steve Young, Tom Brady, Bart Starr and of course, Terry Bradshaw. 
  • Back to my hypothesis that teams might bounce back two years after winning it all. Firstly, here's the record of teams two years removed from their championship:  400-241-1 Again, that's quite an impressive winning percentage. .624 to be precise. 
  • There really have only been a handful of teams that really fell off substantially following their SB wins. The 2002 Buccaneers for example weren't very good in 2003 and 2004. But they were very free agent heavy earlier that decade and couldn't sustain that kind of spending. Jon Gruden also phased out Tony Dungy's system with his own philosophy and the Bucs began their slide back towards the middle of the pack fairly quickly. The first repeat champs - the Green Bay Packers - also trended back towards the mean. They'd miss the playoffs consecutive years following Super Bowls I and II. A few Joe Gibbs coached teams weren't that special either following their title runs. 
  • In the first few years of the 1980s, the Steelers too fell off after their dynastic run throughout the 1970s. Yes, even the legends of Steelers lore couldn't sustain their dominance forever as an era gradually came to an end.
  • Generally speaking though, I gotta say - I don't really see it when it comes to there being a noticeable 'Super Bowl Hangover' effect. In fact, this exercise made me realize really how much of the NFL's history has been dominated by a handful of dynasties and a small group of other franchises that have enjoyed the sweet taste of Super Bowl success. The teams that have been good have stayed good. 
I'll leave it at that for now and open it up to hear what interesting things you might notice or have to say about the subject.
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